Marx-Engels Correspondence 1859

Marx To Ferdinand Lassalle
In Berlin

Source: MECW Volume 40, p. 407;
First published: F. Lassalle. Nachgelassene Briefe und Schriften, Stuttgart-Berlin, 1922.

London, 28 March 1859
9 Grafton Terrace, Maitland Park, Haverstock Hill

Dear Lassalle,

Ad vocem financial predicament: D'abord many thanks for your offers of help. In the meantime, however, I have tried other means, namely writing to my mother asking her if she will lend me the money for a few weeks. Je verrai. Here in London a bill could have been negotiated only through Gerstenberg. But the latter, a petty pompous gentleman and Kinkel’s patron, shall not have the gratification of being asked to do me a service, even a purely formal one.

Ad vocem Duncker. This Wednesday (day after tomorrow), the man will have had the manuscript [Critique of Political Economy] for almost 9 weeks. So far I've been sent only 3 proof-sheets. Between ourselves I should say quite frankly that Duncker is regretting having undertaken the business and that’s why he is handling it in this dilatory, Wetzlar chancellery fashion. If he goes on like this the thing won’t even be out by Easter. And this puts me in another quandary. I am negotiating with an Englishman over the English rendering of these first instalments. This last depends, of course, on the publication of the work in German, and since everything is done at high pressure in London, the Englishman is growing mistrustful. You absolutely cannot make an Englishman understand the German way of doing business.

You will see that the first section does not comprise the principal chapter, i.e. the 3rd, on capital. I thought this advisable on political grounds, for it’s in III that the battle really begins and it seemed to me better not to frighten people de prime abord. [at the very outset]

Ad vocem telegraphy. I accept the offer. — The matter isn’t as simple as you think. Obtaining the information is nothing, but takes up a great deal of time. I shall set up office near the Exchange (where the telegraphic companies who despatch the things also have their offices). However, your cousin must now let me know: 1. By what route does he want the despatches sent? There are 3 companies, one sends via France, the second via Ostend and the third via Antwerp. The only things which should be sent via France, I think, are those for which no French censorship can present a danger. This is, incidentally, the shortest route. 2. What does he want telegraphed? Different papers base their views of what is important on very different principles. 3. How frequently does he want me to telegraph? 4. Besides news from England, do these people want news from America, in short, from outside Europe? He must give me exact instructions about all this since telegraphy demands first and foremost that all non-essentials should be omitted. 5. Finally, I must know at what hour of the day the Presse prefers to receive its news (in the English provinces, at any rate, this varies with individual newspapers, according to the time they come out). In the case of extraordinary events no time could, of course, be laid down, as it could, presumably, for ordinary despatches. For stock-market news I would, of course, have an exceptional source of information in Freiligrath.

Ad vocem ‘Presse’: I accept this offer, too: Firstly, because, unlike last time, no conditions are imposed on me as regards the treatment of specific political personalities. I make it an absolute principle never to assent to a condition. On the other hand, every newspaper has a right to expect tact of its correspondents. Secondly, because times have changed and I now consider it essential that our party should secure positions wherever possible, even if only for a time, so that others should not gain possession of the terrain. For the time being, of course, it must be used cautiously, but the most important thing is to acquire influence at various points against more crucial contingencies. I never received the copies of the Presse which you say Friedlšnder sent me, probably because they were wrongly addressed. I ought, by the by, to be sent a few numbers immediately; one has to find out from the actual paper how, not what one should write for the Viennese public.

Ad vocem your writing for the ‘Presse’. I am quite convinced you should write for them. True, it would be ‘improper’ for you, as a Prussian, to write for an Austrian paper just now. But on principle we should, as Luther says of God, ‘use a thief to catch a thief,’ and whenever we get the chance, contribute to the general state of disintegration and confusion. Before the start of the present troubles I would neither have written for the Presse myself, nor have advised you to do so. But the fermentation process has begun and now it’s up to everyone to do what he can. It is now advisable to infiltrate poison, no matter where. Should we confine ourselves to writing for papers which on the whole share our viewpoint, we'd have to postpone all journalistic activity indefinitely. And should one really allow so-called ‘public opinion’ to have nothing but counter-revolutionary stuff pumped into it?

Ad vocem ‘Tribune’ You certainly misunderstood me if you thought I was asking you to take the Tribune’s subscribers into account. The fact of the matter is this: My real business with the Tribune consists in writing leaders about anything I choose. Here, England heads the bill and France comes second. Much is of an economic nature. But since the change of course in Prussia, I have amused myself on the sly by writing an occasional report from ‘Berlin’ and owing to my ‘internal’ ties with the Hohenzollern homeland I have been able to assess conditions there with great assurance. Among the said subscribers to the Tribune there are a great many Germans. Moreover, the German-American newspapers, whose name is legion, reprint stuff from it. This being so, it was important for me to give local colour to the occasional article I wrote from ‘Berlin’ in order that my polemic with the Prussian State might also be pursued in the New World. A little gossip is indispensable to local colour of this kind. Besides, present Prussian history consists largely of chronique scandaleuse. Hinc illae lacrimae [hence these tears]. In this respect your last letter served me to good purpose.


K. M.

P.S. Have just received a letter from Nutt, the City booksellers, advising me that your parcel has arrived. I shall collect it without fail today.

What is happening about Engels’ pamphlet? I sent it off on the 10th of March. I'd have thought this kind of thing could have been done in 5 days.